ELYRIA — Police Chief Duane Whitely’s 9 percent wage increase approved Monday by City Council may not necessary be the start of pay raises for all of Elyria’s department heads, but a 2018 salary study should tell the story of wage competiveness in the city.
Council President Mike Lotko, D-at large, said Whitely’s adjustment came before the study because it was a unique situation. He is looking for a job and the conversation centered on incentives to make him stay.
Council approved the increase by a vote of 9-1 with Councilman Marcus Madison, D-5th Ward, being the lone no vote. Councilman Mark Craig, I-4th Ward, was absent from Monday’s meeting.
After lauding the city’s top cop with praises, Madison said he was more concerned about the process for how Whitely’s raise was proposed than the fact that a raise was coming.
“This is one position of several and we want to be competitive across the board,” he said.
A week ago, members of the Finance Committee recommended the pay increase to bring Whitely’s salary more in line with the pay structure of other department supervisors and in part to keep Whitely in Elyria as he opened said he was looking for a new job.
“I didn’t want to see that happen,” said Councilman Vic Stewart, D-at large and head of the Finance Committee. “We want to keep the chief here. He does a tremendous job and is a tremendous leader.”
The pay increase goes into effect for Whitely on Jan. 1 and at $96,639 it is a base salary 14.5 percent more than a police captain’s.
It’s an unusual situation as Mayor Holly Brinda said her office usually recommends salaries. That’s why she is pushing hard for the study so salaries can better match the market.
“I hope in the future it will come as a recommendation from the administration and we treat everyone with equity,” she said.
A pay differential sets the pay of the department’s supervisors, but has never been a factor in the police chief’s pay. Police chief is a Civil Service protected position and is not included in a bargaining union.
Whitely, 52, who has been police chief since 2010 and is a 27-year veteran of the department, made $109,824 in 2016 after cashing in on unused vacation time.
Finance Director Ted Pileski said Whitely’s salary follows an already established rule in the department.
A police sergeant makes the Step A patrol officer’s salary plus 15.25 percent as base pay, lieutenants make sergeant’s pay plus 15 percent and captains make lieutenant’s pay plus 14.75 percent.
In other news:
Councilman Marcus Madison, D-5th Ward, was also the lone Councilman to vote against a tax incentive for Johnny K’s Powersports and the retailers plans to move into the old Macy’s department store.
Council voted 9-1 to approve the company’s request for an Enterprise Zone Agreement that will be a 10-year, 75-percent abatement with a total value of $383,213.55. The state incentive program, which the city is authorized to provide, is a real property tax incentive for businesses that expand or relocate in Ohio.
Elyria will be the new flagship location for the retailer that sales recreation vehicles including Indian Motorcycles and Polaris all-terrain vehicles. The company’s finance should be in place by the end of the month and with it will come plans to start renovations in January and open in the spring.
After the meeting, many Council members welcomed John Kalogerou, owner of Johnny K Powersports of Cleveland, to Elyria and hoped his investment in the city would spur more development in the area.